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Zombi Holocaust [Blu-ray]
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ZOMBI HOLOCAUST returns the great Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION) to the screen as one of Italian horror cinema's most likeable heroes. Unfortunately, though, McCulloch is once again placed in a luckless situation: arriving on a Caribbean island full of arisen, innards-hungry, undead denizens. Adding to his anguish is a tribe of peckish cannibals and, rest assured, they have still not learned how to cook their dinner properly... or picked up any table manners!
Also known as DOCTOR BUTCHER MD and expertly directed by the late Marino Girolami, ZOMBI HOLOCAUST transplants two of Rome's finest fright templates into one entrails-laden entity. Indeed, as the title suggests, this legendary grindhouse gem is a macabre mix of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS offering the primitive barbecues of the former flick with the more supernatural suspense of the latter frightener. Can your stomach hold up? Be warned: the gore is more gruesome than ever in this beautifully re-mastered HD edition, presented uncut and uncensored, courtesy of the B-movie mavericks at 88 Films!
BRAND NEW HD Master from the original camera negative restored and graded at Pinewood Studios Post Production in 2015.
Uncompressed LPCM English Soundtrack
Uncompressed LPCM Italian Soundtrack with newly translated English Subtitles
Reversible Sleeve with alternative art
Includes a Collectible 300gsm Original Poster Post Card
EATEN ALIVE, brand new feature length Documentary about the Italian Cannibal film phenomenon.
Q&A with star Ian McCulloch from Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films
Collectible 16 page glossy booklet written by Calum Waddell featuring the names of the restoration supporters.
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Directed by Marino Girolami who was the father of the prolific Italian film director Enzo G Castelleri, Zombie Holocaust followed the similar but ultimately superior Lucio Fulci Italian walking dead flick Zombie Flesh Eaters, a movie which it so closely aped to the point where it plagurised locations, recycled second unit scenes and even recast stars Ian McCulloch and Dakar. Despite the similarities, Girolami's decidedly low rent movie could never hold a light to Fulci's glorious widescreen extravaganza. Often coming across as a hack job with weaker special effects, plodding narrative and incessant eletronic score from Nico Fidenco which sounded for all the world like a verbatim rehash of his work on Joe D'Amato's trashy Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, this could be a chore to sit through for the uninitiated in the art of Italian exploitation. Plot holes abound, continuity is often sketchy and the plentiful gore looks like leftover butchers scraps but despite all of the minus points Zombie Holocaust remains thoroughly entertaining in a cheap grindhouse kind of way and can be so over the top in it's execution that fans of outrageous Euro schlock will definatly get their moneys worth. One element that makes Zombie Holocaust more interesting than the host of other similar themed movies is the marriage of two of Italy's biggest horror exports of the period, namely zombies and cannibals. Although it was nothing new for Italian filmmakers to mix up genres with different slants on the spaghetti western craze as well as a whole host of Joe D'Amato horror and hardcore flicks Zombie Holocaust was the only one of it's kind at this point and the first to include both of the fabled flesh eaters in one crazy movie.
This isn't the first time Zombie Holocaust has graced the Blu ray format with American outfit Shriek Show releasing this to the world of HD a few years back. As to be expected from Shriek Show the quality control was questionable with a transfer that was better than DVD.....but only just. This new release from 88 Films is a vast improvement in almost every regard, breathing new life into this decidedly dubious title. Presented uncut in an AVC MPEG 4 encoded picture transfer from the original camera negative and framed at 1.85:1 I was immediately pleased with the results. Whereas the American disc looked a little soft, lacking in fine details and grain this new transfer that was prepared at Pinewood Studios post production suite rectifies all of these problems with an extremely filmic image that now actually looks like film. Detail is abundant with some great texturing on display from the branches and leaves in the jungle scenes, the rough wood of the tumble down church used by Dr.Obrero for his experiments and the thick make-up on the zombies. Dimensionality is better resolved with strong lines and revealing depth and on the whole this looks solid and lifelike. Grain is fantastic and thankfully doesent appear to have been tampered with meaning this retains it's intended grungy appearance despite occasionally coming across as thick, noisy and overpowering but this is all normal and not a fault of the transfer as this was shot on 2-perf 35mm Techniscope filmstock. Contrast can be slightly blown out for the daytime scenes often making it hard to distinguish trees and foliage against bright skies but dark segments are far easier to watch than the overly dark Shriek Show disc which was almost impenetrable especially during the body snatching scenes at the start of the movie. Black levels are reasonable especially around the campfire passages but crush can creep in to smother the darkness of the surrounding jungle. Colours do appear more natural than before with the bright crimson of the gore, green jungle flora and neon signs in New York popping nicely but again as with the US Blu ray the colour palette is fairly muted with tropical skies coming across more grey than blue and certain sections exhibiting an odd gold tint. Despite an extensive clean up job print damage is still evident with slight fading to the left of the frame, occasional telecine wobble plus vertical lines and scratches but this is all inkeeping with the age and budget of the production and if anything adds the the grindhouse feel. Compression is also excellent which is most welcome as the grain could have caused countless problems for this transfer and the bitrate remains high and consistent throughout the runtime. Newcomers may well be put off by the appearance of Zombie Holocaust with it's thick grain structure and far from polished look, but fans will be more than happy and full praise must go to 88 Films for their beautifully organic presentation here.
Despite the rear of the packaging erroneously quoting an LPCM 1.0 channel mix, this new Blu ray release mirrors the older US import with a uncompressed 2.0 channel 24bit DTS-HD Master mono rendering. This is slightly stronger than the older release but still exhibits the same faults that include a narrow boxy presentation and lack of dynamics indicative of dubbed low budget Italian movies. The dubbed dialogue is almost always discernable but certain characters voices sound more detached than others even possessing slight clipping and background hiss. Effects sound antiquated from the cracks of rifles, bursts of pistols and various other foley effects but from what I can remember are more robust than the Shriek Show release and the music presentation is more punchy if still a little flat. Of course this is as good as Zombie Holocaust will ever sound and I doubt the dated elements used for this would stretch to anything more. For an interesting comparison the Italian language track is also included with handy English subtitles. This sounds less powerful than the English dub with pitchy vocals and less dynamic range and I am also going to annoy the purists out there by saying I much prefer the English dub just because it Is the one I'm used too and it just doesent seem right not having McCulloch's dulcet tones on the soundtrack. For completest reasons though it is good that 88 Films have decided to include this option and another reason it trumps the US disc. For the record I found I couldn't switch between the soundtrack options during playback meaning that I had to go into the menu to retrieve the Italian dub.
There are only two major extras on this new UK Blu ray but they are more than worth the price of admission. First up is the documentary 'Eaten Alive' which is an incredibly informative 83 minute piece chronicling the cannibal movie right from the early 1970s. What is so great about this feature is that it includes a small piece for all the movies in the genre with input from directors, stars and film historians along with clips from the said movies. I had already seen this entertaining addition on the Grindhouse Releasing Blu ray of Cannibal Ferox and have not found the time to re-watch it again here so I can't possibly comment on whether this is identical in content or if anything has been removed for censorship or rights reasons. As I mentioned in my Cannibal Ferox Blu ray review i was slightly disappointed in that despite the bulk of the documentary being presented in HD sadly the movie clips are in standard definition only but this is only a small gripe for what is a fantastic viewing experience for fans of Italian exploitation.
Next up is a long Q&A session with star of Zombie Holocaust Ian McCulloch filmed at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films. Again this is another worthy extra and to be fair the only new supplement that is specific to Zombie Holocaust.
Again the deleted scene that has been on pretty much every other release of this film is also included as is the theatrical trailer plus the insert booklet has a text based interview again with Ian McCulloch which is worth a read but as to be expected covers similar ground to the Q&A plus any other feature you may have seen featuring the Glaswegian born actor.
As a footnote it is worth noting that the American import from Shriek Show contains a couple of extra features that are not included on this release in the form of a chat with special effects expert Maurizio Trani and a whole host of information on the alternate US version of the movie entitled Dr.Butcher MD. Although these extras wouldn't sway me to buy this version over the 88 Films release true fans may want to own both releases.
Despite being unflinching in its violence, overt with it's gore and extremely revealing in the T&A department Zombie Holocaust has lost some of it's visceral nastiness over the past 35 years now looking ever so slightly quaint and antiquated with its latexy hand made special effects and crusty zombie make-up. That said this is never boring and if watched in the right frame of mind or with in the correct company is a thoroughly entertaining 85 minutes or so. I have seen this movie many times and on just as many formats but this new release from 88 Films is by far the best presentation I have ever seen with a remarkably strong, natural and filmic picture transfer, listenable lossless audio and a couple of interesting extras. Here's to hoping the next slew of Italian releases from 88 Films look as strong as this as I for one wait with baited breath for Burial Ground which will be another Shriek Show Blu ray I can remove from my collection and relace with something that resmbles this satisfying Zombie Holocaust disc. Recommended.
Blu-ray picture is very slightly grainy but looks fantastic compared to DVD, (1080pHD)
Features are great, you get a feature length documentary called Eaten Alive which delves deep into the phenomenon of the late cannibal movies with interviews with directors etc, running time 85-minutes,
Deleted scene, trailer,
English language (not too badly dubbed) and Italian language with English subtitles,
16-page mini book, reversible sleeve with different art, 1 zombi holocaust post card,
Region B only, running time 84-minutes, 1980.
Not quite as good as the aforementioned movie but none the less an excellent piece of Italian horror.
This one mixes the zombie genre with the cannibal genre and I would say that this one is more of a cannibal movie but the zombies are very nicely designed too.
A mad doctor is mucking about with brain transplants on a remote Caribean island and has created a bunch of living dead guys who are terrifying the local cannibal tribe.
Enter the mandatory investigative reporter and crew from New York who uncover the whole mess and then have to fight for survival, who will eat them first?
Very gory in some parts, this makes a great companion piece for it's predecessor.
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